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Is second-hand smoke more dangerous than active smoking?

Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke can cause serious and fatal diseases in adults and children.

Written by Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti |Published : December 28, 2017 6:56 PM IST

Most of us think that there's no need to worry if you are standing in a group of smokers although you do not smoke. However, that is not the case. Second-hand smoke, also known as passive smoking can be more dangerous than active smoking. Dr Duru Shah, Director, Gynaecworld, Center for Assisted Reproduction & Women s health, Mumbai explains in detail why it is so.

Second-hand smoke is a mixture of sidestream and mainstream smoke. The smoke which comes from the burning end of a cigarette is termed as sidestream smoke and the smoke that is exhaled by the smoker is mainstream smoke. Being exposed to second-hand smoke affects an adult s heart and blood vessels directly. Adult nonsmokers who live with smokers are at about 25% more risk of developing heart disease. Sidestream smoke makes up about 85% of second-hand smoke which consists of different chemicals than exhaled mainstream smoke. It burns at a lower temperature, and the burn is not as clean or complete. Hence, this may result in the possibility of lung cancer even in the non-smokers. Here are few facts about passive smoking.

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of health and behavioral problems in the newborns, which includes: abnormal blood pressure in infants and children, cleft palate and lip, leukemia, infantile colic, childhood wheezing, respiratory disorders, eye problems, mental retardation, attention deficit disorder, behavioral problems and other learning and developmental problems in the affected children.

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Smoking affects not only the health of smokers but also the health of those around them who are exposed to second-hand smoke, such as their children, spouses and other relatives at home and the co-workers in the workplace. Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke can cause serious and fatal diseases in adults and children. Research studies have found that smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke among pregnant women is a significant cause of miscarriages and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) after birth. Infants of mothers who smoke during and after pregnancy are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than babies of non-smoking mothers. This indicates that there is a direct impact of tobacco on the infant mortality rate. Research has revealed that smoking causes infertility as it harms the eggs in women and sperms in men. Consumption of smokeless tobacco during pregnancy leads to premature deliveries and also prevents the babies from growing optimally whilst in the mothers wombs. Also read how parents may be exposing kids to second-hand smoke.

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